The government and the FA are in talks over potentially resuming the Women’s FA Cup, which has been suspended during the four-week national lockdown in England, despite the men’s competition being given approval to continue.
The Football Association confirmed on Tuesday that the 10 non-elite teams competing in the first round of the men’s FA Cup will be able to compete from November 6-9.
The women’s first round – not classed as elite according to government guidelines – was originally scheduled for November 15, but the earliest return date possible for the competition will be December 2, when lockdown restrictions are due to be eased.
But the minister for sport, tourism and heritage Nigel Huddleston provided an update on Thursday, suggesting there was a possibility for the women’s competition to go ahead despite the latest restrictions.
We are in discussions with the @FA about the Women’s FA Cup to see if a solution can be found that means the competition does not need to be paused. pic.twitter.com/dFN5E90Hrr
His tweet said: “We are in discussions with the FA about the Women’s FA Cup to see if a solution can be found that means the competition does not need to be paused.”
Clubs below the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will be unable to train or play matches for the duration of the lockdown, with all 24 women’s sides in the FA Cup first round from the fourth tier or below.
Teams from the Women’s National League North and South Premier divisions – the third tier of the women’s pyramid – enter at the second-round stage.
All clubs from the top two divisions in women’s football do not join the FA Cup competition until the fourth round.
An FA statement read: “Ahead of the upcoming national lockdown The Football Association is working with the UK Government, clubs and key stakeholders to continue the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship seasons under the elite sport guidance and protocols. Our number one priority remains the safety and welfare of everyone involved in our game. A special thanks to all women’s football fans for their ongoing support during these challenging times.
“Whilst the Barclays FA WSL and FA Women’s Championship will continue, ‘non-elite’ football, which includes Tiers 3-7 of the Women’s Football Pyramid, the Regional NLS Feeder Leagues, the Barclays FA WSL Academy League, FA Girls Regional Talent Clubs, indoor and outdoor grassroots fixtures and all training, is to be paused during this period as a result of the new UK Government restrictions.”
The FA added details on fixtures and dates for this season’s competition would follow in due course.
All adult and children’s grassroots football has been put on halt in England during the lockdown, which came into effect on Thursday. Elite sport will continue behind closed doors.
Manchester City beat Everton 3-1 in extra-time to win the 50th Women’s FA Cup final behind closed doors at Wembley on Sunday.
The competition was originally scheduled to finish in May but was delayed for over six months at the quarter-final stage because of the pandemic.
Women’s FA Cup first-round draw
FC United of Manchester Women vs Fleetwood Town Wrens LFC or Liverpool Feds LFC
Chester-Le-Street Town Ladies FC vs Brighouse Town Women FC
Newcastle United Women FC vs Barnsley Women’s FC
Wolverhampton Wanderers WFC vs Stourbridge FC Ladies
Lincoln City Women FC vs Solihull Moors Women FC
Wem Town Ladies FC vs Boldmere St Michaels Women FC
Harlow Town Ladies FC vs Ipswich Town LFC
Kent Football Utd LFC or AFC Wimbledon Ladies vs Luton Town Ladies FC/ Enfield Town LFC
Billericay Town LFC vs Maidenhead United LFC
Eastbourne Town LFC or Leyton Orient WFC vs Actonians LFC
AFC Bournemouth Women vs Southampton FC Women
Exeter City Women FC vs Cheltenham Town LFC
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